Pratyahara: The Fifth Limb of Yoga

Turning Inward

Pratyahara is translated as “withdrawal” of the senses.  It is described in the sutras that Pratyahara is the effort to draw the mind and senses away from the external world and into the internal world.  It is the last of the “outer limbs”  which is notable because if the journey has been followed up to this point, the body, mind, breath, and soul are ready to dive deeper into concentration. 

By closing and clearing our sensory perception we limit distraction and can sense more deeply our internal sensations, intuition, and intelligence.  Saucha (Niyama) plays a very clear role in Pratyahara.  The purification of the senses and withdrawing them disconnects us from our limiting sensory perception, opening ourselves up to the possibilities beyond the tangible. 

Withdrawing the senses, mind, and consciousness from contact with external objects, and then drawing them inwards towards the seer, is pratyahara. (Yoga Sutras II-55-56)